Retirement isn’t what is used to be...it’s a great deal better. I keep hearing inspirational life transformation stories from retirees. Take my in-laws for example - after retiring 4 or 5 years ago they are so busy that we have to book to visit them months in advance. What are they up to? This very normal ex-teaching and ex-IT couple are in fact working their way around the world teaching bridge on luxury cruises! They combined a hobby and teaching skills to offer them joint retirement heaven.
They are not alone. Other inspiring stories I’ve heard recently include cycling around Majorca, helping to build a school in Kenya and signing up to an Italian cooking course in…Florence.
In a word, I am jealous!
I totally understand that many retirees have worked and saved all their lives to enjoy their new-found freedom and I can’t help wanting a slice of the action. BUT, I’m not ready to wait about 25 years to get it.
Last year, I wrote an article based on the latest research into how personality might impact retirement enjoyment and in the process I uncovered some global trends:
1. Apparently, the more conscientious and agreeable you are as a personality, the more you are likely to enjoy your retirement (do we get more or less agreeable with age?);
2. Taking part in new activities is very strongly linked to higher mental and physical health in retirement;
3. The one specific activity which has the greatest impact on enhanced well-being, lower instances of illness and lower death rates in retirement is…volunteering.
The last point blew my mind, especially when we consider employment trends in the UK – how will we all have enough time to be volunteering if we are all still working through the supposedly healthy, vibrant, early retirement phase?
Let’s look at the numbers today. According to the DWP, 10% of UK 70-74 year olds are in work (the highest figure since records began). Almost 15% of men over the age of 65 are currently in employment. These figures are forecast to rise substantially given advancing pension ages.
Some might think that talking about retirement to mid-lifers is time wasted. But, if we are all going to be working into late life, then mid-life is the perfect time to deliberately design the second-half of your career which might last another 20, 30 or even 40 years. If we are still working, ideally it will because we are still enjoying our work or have designed it in a way that it fits around the really fun parts of our lives.
Maybe there is a way to re-frame work as a more enjoyable part of your life by consciously designing work that really connects with your life? Work that doesn't feel like the part of life that just pays the bills and allows us the two week holiday to re-fresh and gain enough energy to head back to “the grindstone”.
Designing a new second half of life is possible to do by yourself but it will take time, research, deep thinking and an honesty about your own resources and limiting beliefs that is difficult to access by yourself.
Often, when I work with individuals, they say that they do not have a vision of their preferred future career but through questioning and exercises it soon becomes very clear. To start your own career transformation go to www.midlifeunstuck.com, sign up to my newsletter and contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org